Liquor commissioners are going to look at recommending changes to state laws that currently prevent over-the-counter service to customers sitting at restaurant bars but probably not at their next meeting.
The issue is on the agenda for next Thursday's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission meeting, but the commissioner pushing for the change said Friday she'll postpone the discussion until another meeting when there's more time available.
"That should be something we discuss and do right," the new commissioner, Bobbie Bicknell Coray, said of attempting to ease restrictions on bars in restaurants that sometimes result in glass or other barriers.
At last month's meeting, Coray raised the issue of doing away with the so-called "Zion Curtain" that keeps servers from passing food and drinks, including non-alcoholic ones, over a restaurant bar.
Earl Dorius, regulatory director for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said there are also other ways restaurants technically comply with the law banning service where alcohol is stored or dispensed.
Those include small walls at the end of a bar area between customers and where drinks are poured or even tucking the bartender and the alcoholic beverages back in the restaurant's kitchen, Dorius said.
"Certainly, we don't want to see restaurants become bars," Dorius said, with bartenders mixing drinks in front of customers and passing them directly over a bar as is done in the state's private clubs.
What likely won't change, he said, are requirements that 70 percent of a restaurant's sales be in food and customers drink only if they are also eating. But state lawmakers could consider banning underage customers from the bar area of restaurants, Dorius said.
Coray said that and other quirky Utah liquor laws should be the subject of a public hearing. While that is not on the Thursday meeting agenda, Coray said she expects commissioners to talk about how best to get public input.
Much of the meeting however, will be devoted to a public hearing on how the alcohol content of flavored malt beverages and energy drinks should be labeled. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at the DABC office, 1625 S. 900 West, and the meeting follows at 11 a.m.Commissioners are also looking at a new rule that would take flavored malt beverages, sometimes called "alcoholpops because of their appeal to young drinkers, out of supermarkets and allow them to be sold only in state liquor stores.